Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Can Facebook be Built in India?

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion on outsourcing, titled – Building Facebook in Bangalore: Outsourcing 2.0 – it had a good mix of panelists – one early stage investor, couple of entrepreneurs, and one CEO of a boutique outsourcing firm. Entire discussion was focused on panelists’ perceptions on differences between culture of Indian engineers and the culture of Web 2.0 companies – and at the end their conclusion was that it is very painful, if not impossible, to build Facebook kind of services in India.

I do not subscribe completely to the conclusion drawn by our panelists. I believe that some of the most attractive and sustainable consumer oriented Web (2.0) services can be built by engineers sitting in India. And, I argue that three cultural traits of Indians, i.e. diversity, adaptability and entrepreneurship, make the Indian minds rightly suited for doing so.

Cultural diversity has never been new to Indians. A country that is built with democratic fiber, rapid globalization, and a very successful and unshackled media, has exposed Indians to far reaching global cultural diversity. Adaptability trait of Indians has trained Indian minds to always listen, understand, and adopt the alternate viewpoints, much more easily than other countries, once this exposure is made. And finally, entrepreneurial Indian mind is always looking for ways to make a “useful” enterprise out of everything new they learn through this exposure.

This makes Indian minds lot more similar to Silicon Valley minds that start and build great Internet businesses.

However, having said that, there must be some reason why panelists’ with their experience with outsourcing were converging on the conclusion that they did. Yes, there are a few reasons, most important of all is picking the Right set of people and motivating them to do work for them. Often people go into outsourcing with misplaced convictions, some of them were clearly resonated by panelists – “I would save 80% in labor cost”, “I would not hire engineers with top school education because attrition is very high in that group” etc.

Second important factor is attention deficiency disorder in Indian engineers. This often goes hand in hand with entrepreneurial trait as well as competitive job market in India. Indian engineers work very hard to reach the 90th milestone but after that their minds often get attracted towards other new things, and they do not give same rigor to last 10 milestones- often referred as “finishing touches” or “final packaging” – this is where their American counterparts building consumer products are clearly differentiable – Americans understand very well that packaging plays a huge role in attracting consumers to products even in a crowded market.

At OutworX, we strongly believe in building the right teams. We hire the right people, and motivate them to highest levels. We do not believe in conventional thinking and do not let misplaced convictions distract us from our goal of building the right teams. We train our engineers to understand that race never ends on 90th milestone, it just gets more competitive in final 10.

We recognize the above three cultural traits of Indian minds, we create an open environment in the organization that exploits these three traits to fullest and further nurtures them in the minds of our engineers.

Yes, Facebook can be built in Bangalore. But what is more important is whether your idea, that is generation ahead of Facebook, can be built in India?

My answer is resounding Yes. Talk to any OutworX engineer to see for yourself how.

Posted by Rajiv Jain, CEO, OutworX Corporation

No comments: